What’s good for the mind is also good for the heart. We’re already aware of the overwhelming benefits of exercise for your health, especially your heart health. But studies have shown that there can be health benefits gained from slowing down as well, especially in the form of health meditation and breath work.
If you’re someone who practices meditation, you know the power it holds and its impact on your health. Mindfulness helps clear your mind, breathe in deeply and feel the stress recede each time you exhale. When stressed, our heart rate rises, and we tend to breathe faster. Mindfulness helps us become aware of this heightened state and pushes us to take longer, fuller breaths to calm our hearts and minds and improve our focus and memory. However, mastering the art of meditation and mindfulness takes a lot of patience and practice. Science proves that mindfulness boasts the health benefits of investing in your inner self.
How is Practicing Meditation Good for the Heart?
“Practicing meditation trains our minds to eliminate the extra noise of modern life and helps us focus on where we are not and what we are doing. Meditation guides us to take a moment for ourselves and clear our minds, sit still and let go of lingering thoughts, focusing instead on the sensations our body is experiencing. It’s an aware-focused practice that delivers a much-needed sense of calm and quiet,” explains Brenda Manfredi, MD, a board-certified family medicine physician from Greensboro, NC.
Compared with people who don’t meditate, regular meditators had a lot of heart health benefits:
- 35% lower risk of high cholesterol
- 14% lower risk of high blood pressure
- 30% lower risk of type 2 diabetes
- 24% lower risk of stroke
- 49% lower risk of coronary artery disease
Research has found a positive link between meditation, mindfulness, and heart health. Let’s look at these benefits corresponding to heart health meditation.
1. Meditation reduces the risk of heart disease
In June 2020, The American Journal of Cardiology found that meditation is associated with a lower prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors and disease. This supports previous studies showing people who meditate are less likely to have a heart attack or stroke – some studies show a reduced incidence of cardiovascular disease by 88%. Researchers surveyed more than 60,000 people and found that people who meditate regularly have lower cholesterol, better blood pressure, and less chance of diabetes, stroke, and heart disease than those who didn’t meditate regularly.
2. Music meditation can lessen anxiety & stress
If you’ve suffered from a heart attack before, listening to 30 minutes of music a day can lessen your anxiety, relieve post-op stress and improve your recovery. The study also found that heart attack patients who spent half an hour daily listening to music experienced less distress, less pain, and fewer doubts about their progress than patients who preferred less rhythmic recovery.
3. Reduced stress leads to reduced cortisol levels
The body produces the cortisol hormone when we’re stressed or overwhelmed. This leads to the onset of our fight-or-flight response which accelerates the heart rate and blood pressure. Studies prove that meditation and music can lower stress levels, reduce cortisol levels and improve heart health. Music also boosts serotonin and endorphin levels, brightening our mood and improving emotional health.
When you’re practicing meditation or mindfulness, add music to your routine. Just pick some tunes and let the sound heal your soul. Follow the steps below and you should get into a healthy groove that inculcates mindfulness into your life:
- Sit quietly with your eyes closed
- Breathe slowly
- Relax your muscles and clear your mind
- Try adding peaceful meditation music, white noise, or the sound of trickling water
- Concentrate on your breath as you inhale and exhale deeply
- Set a timer for 10 minutes
- Repeat daily
It takes some time to start a new habit but with patience and practice, you can become familiar with the basics and lead yourself to success in no time.